Archive for January, 2009

Jan 30 2009

Feedback – something so simple?!

Published by under Personal Development

Being a manager & a trainer, I’m very interested in giving feedback effectively.

Frequently in my workshops, people step way outside their comfort zones, try things they never thought possible and create some amazing improvements in performance and behaviour. Many times they are brilliant, other times while making obvious progress, there’s still room for significant improvement. The secret to keeping that momentum going in the right direction is delivering effective feedback.

When someone knows they have risked everything, a harsh word can crush that tender shoot, dowse that new found spark in a bucket of ice cold water. I choose my words very carefully!!

I’ve read books on the subject of giving feedback – and there are many to choose from.

There’s a definite gift to doing this well and there seem to be few people who are naturally gifted!

Andrew Morgan at Swansea University shared a memorable mnemonic – “The two Ms of feedback – Give them a Medal and Give them a Mission!”. Very pithy and a good summary of the process!

Thanks Andrew!


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Jan 21 2009

Starbucks – the art of being private in public

On Tuesday I arrived early for my workshop, knew I would, well worht it to avoid busy traffic later.

I also knew that there would be a Starbucks close by, a refuge where I could get breakfast and gather my thoughts before the training session.

I settled in and began to notice the people around me… some were obviously “regulars”, others, no doubt like myself were just passing through.

I took a sip of my drink and scowled. How could any business become so famous for selling such mediocre coffee?!

And then another penny dropped – it’s not about the coffee, it’s the experience.

My companions in this outlet were extremely varied… a group of four obviously having a team meeting before going on to a job together. A quieter lady covering the table and the bench seat besides her with books and files – she looked as if she were reconciling a set of accounts to my distant and inexperienced eye. My closest companion was picking at her food while reading a novel – I couldn’t see the book cover but the novel was winning out over the food! A number of men sat on their own dotted around the room, checking emails or playing games on their mobile phone.

In their own way each person was in their own private space while being fully in public. Our entry price for this haven was the purchase of the famous Starbucks coffee – or tea. A small price for our own private space bubble in a busy coffee shop!

And so on with my day – Presenting Your Research at Conference – my favourite. What fun!!!


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Jan 13 2009

Do you get goal setting?

Well, we’re now over 2 weeks into 2009 and I’m wondering whether the “goal setting frenzy” has died down.

After all, isn’t it a bit overhyped? Why do we all need to set goals anyway and why on January 1st, which is after all only an accident of time?

For years I struggled with goal setting. It felt very artificial, false. I could easily set the goal – and just as easily abandon it within days so what was the point? Wanting it badly, visualising, didn’t seem to make it any more likely that the goal would be achieved.

I always pride myself on doing my best – I’m not naturally highly competitive and doing my best always seemed to be good enough so why did I need to set other goals?

It was a little while before I really “got it”.

Just by looking around me I saw there were many really good, very nice people who were giving of their best, doing a good job, just taking life as it comes, sort of plodding along… So far as I could see they weren’t obviously setting goals though I’m more confident that they were probably doing their best on many different fronts, personally and professionally.

In honesty, that’s what I was doing on many different fronts – and that was just one of the keys. I was doing lots of things, personal and professional. If you want a picture to illustrate my predicament – I was reading books, for fun, for relaxation, for self development, for professional improvement… It wasn’t unusual for me to have six books being read at any time and none of them actually finished within six months…

People who were really making progress – the Nicola Cairncrosses and Judith Morgans of the world – were out there setting goals, chasing and challenging targets… In honesty I don’t know that they always achieved their goals (or finished their books!) but I could see what they were chasing, where they were headed.

And the penny dropped – The goal itself isn’t magical but it give a focus to activity.

I read something recently that went something like this:
Vision without Action is a daydream
Action without Vision is simply passing the time
Action with Vision is making a positive difference. (Joel Barker)

And maybe that’s what the process of goal setting does.

Going through the process of goal setting makes sure I make the time to create a concrete and measurable vision rather than a daydream. The act of pursuing a goal couples the vision with focussed action.

It isn’t a magic wand but it certainly makes a positive difference to my world.

And no, there’s nothing magical about New Year, just about anytime that you’re prepared to combine both vision and action is a pretty good time to set a new goal.

Are you ready?


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Jan 07 2009

Beyond dependence

Continuing reflections on success…

One thing I really notice in my role as Money Gym Coach and as a trainer with Training For Universities is that some people, many people, get to the stage where they recognise they need help…

There are many times when we know we’ve reached the boundaries of our current skill set and need fresh input. This is the first step on the journey to success. Having recognised a need, we come actively seeking a solution. You can’t start any journey of self improvement unless you actually show up!

Many new clients to the Money Gym know that they have reached the end of their budget and that joining the Money Gym Gold coaching programme is their last lifeline… For the majority of clients it really is that – a lifeline. Over the course of weeks or months they learn new ways of thinking, new skills, experience new communities of thought. There are so many amazing examples of this on the Money Gym Silver Google group – but you’ll have to join in or take a look at the blog to take a peek…

Similarly most people who come to my training workshops are faced with a situation where they know they could have done better… whether it is giving a conference presentation or managing a junior member of staff – they need new skills and come to the workshop to learn…

For a minority of people, unfortunately, showing up is as far as it goes.

For some there seems to be the mindset that “I’ve paid the money, now give me the skill!”.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve been tempted by this demon – and succumbed – on many occasions. How many people have bought internet marketing solutions and done nothing with them? How often have you bought something, maybe a diet book, perhaps an exercise video, maybe even full membership of a swanky gym – and then not got past the cover. If only turing your situation around were as simple as making the purchase! We all know it takes more than this.

First of all you need to be prepared to loosen your grip on old realities. Whatever you knew in the past isn’t working as well as it might so you have to be open to the possibilitity that there is a better way AND then some.

Once you have some idea of what the new way might be, that’s the time for rolling up your sleeves and putting in the work. We all know that the road to hell is paved with good intentions and I’ve laid many paths there for myself.

For me one secret of success is being prepared to move beyond dependence. To move beyond the belief that if I pay my money to someone else, “it” will miraculously tranform me.

I have to take responsibility for myself, for my future, for my actions. It is only by my own commitment that I can start to create a new way, to learn and to put into practice new skills, develop new habits. And yes, this does mean moving outside of my comfort zone!

So what do you think? Are we ready to give up our search for magic wand solutions, to move beyond dependence?


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Jan 05 2009

Beginning again in a recession

We’re well into 2009 now. For most people today is the first “proper” day back at work. I can see the effects of people trawling through their inbox, tying up loose ends from 2008, making plans to fill their 2009 diaries.

For myself, I’m just recovering. My body took a hard hit with various viruses over the last month but my mind – the bit of it that is motivated and focussed at any rate – seems to be just making it back to the land of the living! I hope you fared well over the holiday.

So as I beging to get my plans together I also need to look back at what worked, what stalled, what needs starting again, throwing out…

I don’t wish to knock New Year resolutions – though suspect that many made with good intentions have already fallen by the wayside. I feel that it is vitally important to make a conscious review of what is important for 2009, knowing what worked – or not – for 2008.

Almost everything you read proclaims doom and gloom for the forseeable future. Stockmarkets down 30% on the year, house prices down 16%, predicictions of 3 million unemployed in the UK. These stories are enough to keep most people safely locked in their bunkers. In terms of savings or investments, where is a girl to put her money? Interest rates for savers are so low as to be riseable but has the UK property market bottomed out yet – even if you do have the credit record and deposit to get that mortgage?!

Now I know that these headline figures hide many personal stories of tragedy, of savings lost, pensions shrunk and properties locked in a frozen sea – for the individuals and families concerned, this is tough stuff.

However on the few occasions I ventured out shopping over the holiday I was swamped by hoardes of people intent on buying – well everything! There was hardly a store I entered that didn’t have long queues of customers excitedly holding aloft their trophies. So is this the sign of a recession? Are all these good citizens doing their duty and spending their way out of a collapsing economy or are they doing the consumer version of fiddling while Rome burns?

Do you know what, I’m not sure I know the answer to that question.

What I do know is that I’m thinking more carefully about financial decisions big and small. More than ever I’m glad to be part of a comunity of people at The Money Gym who collectively have a lot of information about making and keeping money, about investment opportunities, about how to survive and thrive in these uncharted waters…

One lesson I’m really beginning to learn is this – when faced with a difficult job, get help!


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